For Constantin Stanislavski
I hear the pot in the kitchen, the sound it makes when the coffee is almost ready, a pot for to make espresso on the stove, a pot from Italy, brewing espresso on the same principle as volcano’s erupt. My little Vesuvius, I call it, and I’m only discussing the coffee pot and my drinking coffee every day without fail because you, my readers, will insist that this tells you something, that you need these kinds of details in order for you to know that you are experiencing a human telling of a human experience, otherwise you might not understand my humanity . . . or yours. . . detailing this way insures, you imagine, that you are receiving a representation of human being, although in light of your prejudices, your preconceived ideas that you have been receiving for as long as you have confused parroting for speaking, randomly passing images or words in the mind for thinking, I doubt you or anyone has the patience or the love–yes, the love–necessary to perform what I might call higher literary election, interpretation, deciphering? I’ve come to question the certainty of my doubt. I do love espresso . . . and I am going to go to the kitchen and shut the pot off and have the coffee I need because if I don’t have coffee in the morning first thing after the first thing I have, fruit juice, I am just not myself, whoever or whatever that might be. Who I am that others imagine they know and can tell all about by looking thus seeing thus understanding at times persists as a mystery, but mysterium mysteriae aside, who stands under me, I wonder who has, who is willing, who can? I’ve had women who laid themselves down under me, along side of me and themselves on top of me, yet the kind of standing under we need to perform gets lost on the stages of life–on, not in. To understand is to stand under (simplicity is a kind of proof), I become post to lintel when I do, as I have said before . . . the author here has, before in one or another story he has written for one or another narrator or expositor . . . and I remember thinking about why the veils Muslim women wear upset us so much, and they do upset us. I am at times upset by the apparent backwardness of it, and there are times I am certain of the backwardness of women who cover themselves entirely, all but for a slit for the eyes. I’m still confused how hair on the head is sexier than hands or eyes? Muslim women are in fact either more overt than we are willing to be about our mask wearing, or they hide the masks they wear in the world and only reveal their masks to their husbands or family . . . the stranger is strange, always estranged. I do, though, think it is almost other-worldly for them to be wearing niqabs here in America, but then I am not an apologist for Western Civilization, nor am ever going to experience White Guilt, not that I think I should. And that’s the most offensive of remarks, I’ve learned–to say that I have none of the insipid white bourgeois liberal’s affected guilt over the past . . . what past, whose past, what is past is past, once more we see that truth is in tautology. . . and I am neither a supporter of Affirmative Action, nor am I an opponent. I always suspect any measure meant to improve anyone’s lot once it has been subsumed by the bureaucracy and managed by it. It is always going to be a lot less than it could–or maybe that’s the point, bureaucracy only does what it can even if it can do more and does not. When we not only look to but receive all our clues and cues about Affirmative Action from the State, I can’t help but suspect its design, its motives, its results that are other than what it says they are. I’m sorry, but I really do not give a shit except in as much as it is integral to any discussion of freedom for all people, how people of color have been screwed by European Colonialism; of course I am of the thinking that most of the descendants of those fucked by European colonialism also do not give a shit either. And that is spite of how much other members of these descendants might squawk and cluck and crow about how it is significant to their people. Most people everywhere do not give a fuck about their history, which is not to say or try to say that history is irrelevant . . . what could be relevant to you, How long I have been drinking espresso? Not as long as I have been drinking coffee. Just when, though, I am not going to figure . . . one two three . . . we do not live our lives with a persistent or virtually constant historical consciousness. I still do not hear Americans disrespecting Muslim women as often as I hear in Bay Ridge Brooklyn for instance Arab Muslim men disrespect American and European women day in and day out–what’s Arabic for whore and prostitute–you can hear it every day because there are enough young men in a place like Bay Ridge who hate Americans and America every day–now I sound like one of crazy Republican Nativists. Yet I should not . . . I wear masks as well. All the world, you know, the stages we find ourselves on everywhere every when . . . the masks I wear are many: the masks at work, the mask in the classroom, the mask with colleagues, the ones I wear with friends, the ones I wear with my lover, the ones I’ve worn with family, father, mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, where, when, what clothes I wear, the parties I’ve been to, the strangers I meet, yes strange, less strange the more I get to know them–do I get behind their masks? Is coffee-drinker a mask I wear? In public it is a mask I wear when I want a certain kind of coffee a certain way and insist on getting my way when I order and drink coffee in public. All the world’s a stage, which means everywhere every when. . . what about the masks I wear inside–the masks on the selves in the self. I am we; we are, I am, how so the other who I might be, there are many. Estranged? The masks I wear inside are plural too, many selves in the Self to wear within me their own masks. Yes, to get behind these masks I wear inside, now that would be revealing. Is there a way to correspond every mask I wear in the world with masks I wear on the Self, the selves themselves the mask, or do I in turn wear masks for the different selves as I wear different masks for the different characters I become? In the course of a man’s life he has played the role of boyfriend, but then he has worn a different mask on the character of boyfriend, no? Each time he is a boyfriend? Each man is a boyfriend or husband and friend to other women, so it is not with women he is a character, but the relationship determines the character and the woman in particular, the mask? I am asking . . . and I have come to the kitchen. I have turned off the espresso pot. I wait for the erupting to subside. After, I pour a cup half full of steamed milk–I sometimes have caffe latte. (All double letters in Italian are pronounced, are in separate syllables.) How many of us imagine that the things we do habitually define us, how many of us need to read details, details and more minutia in the fiction we read in order to believe we are experiencing something real, something tangible, something at least consistent with traditional values of verisimilitude.We are mostly full shit in this way, and most of us have no clue what we want from fiction, or need from fiction, or could accept from fiction, most of us reading as badly as we do, needing more and more description of familiar or de-familiar places in conventionally framed presentations of the de-familiar in order to think we have read something meaningful. But then we are the kinds of readers who more often than not skim the pages we imagine we are reading, never performing a deep enough kind of reading the first time we read, so that if we ever do re-read, we might just come closer to full enough first read. Not likely though. But then we look to Hollywood to teach us history lessons–that’s a joke, isn’t it? Narrator and/or Expositor–each is a character; each is a mask the author wears, this yet one of the many masks the man the author is wears . . . the veils we put on memories, the veils we put on Truth, the veil of Maya everywhere– the veils we use to hide one thing or action or word or trait or manner or feeling or whatever have we in the universe of being human, of having human emotions . . . what do they cover or discover? Is there a way to discover by veiling? I used to take photos with various kinds of stockings over the lenses to capture varying levels of opacity, a photo I have of the old Jefferson Market now a branch of the New York Public Library through a thunder storm from the second floor window of the former B. Dalton Bookstore at the corner of Sixth and Saint Mark’s Place: a building’s tower veiled by the rain. It’s a beautiful photo in shades of gray, a charcoal sketch in photography. Da Vinci’s sfumato technique reminds me of a form of veiling as does the singularly greatest advancement of the Impressionists: the painting of air, of atmosphere, of atmospheric effects; what then must we come to understand about these veils they wear–yes, they, those people, those women, them? Honesty? Is it about this? Overt? Is it more overt what they wear, more overt about a pan human condition, the masks we wear, and all veils are forms of masks, and everyone wears a variety of masks in a variety of social and interpersonal situations. Then there are the masks we wear inside; inside the Self of many selves we wear masks on these selves. masks that we wear by nature or by civilization are then covered by other masks personal or oppressive, imposed by conditions peculiar to one’s state of oppression. I am not one that imagines the new arrivals love us–I see, I hear, I feel that more of them have contempt for us and condescend to us, as they also must arrogantly assume they are better and smarter than we are here in the United States–I have no illusions that people from everywhere else are here because they love us, want to love us, want to be friendly and not just make more money than they would otherwise be able to do in their countries–it does not matter where anyone is from, and this shit that there are good and bad people in all peoples is another trite way of trying to believe that most immigrants to America do not despise, consciously or pre-consciously, everything about America and Americans. I see how arrogant, how racist, how ethnocentric and xenophobic most immigrants really are, and that is right here every day in my multiethnic neighborhood in Brooklyn. Nobody feels himself in a position to act violently on their manner, perceptions and beliefs, but if anyone of these groups had hegemony, they would be violating the rights of every single other person not of their own. So, enough about how racist whitey is, because if African-Americans had hegemony, all immigrants would be in camps. If the Chinese in my neighborhood had hegemony–I do not want to imagine what would happen to African-Americans, or so I do imagine, and so I think enough times for me to believe, which insures I will feel it thus hold convictions greater than believing . . . I wish there was a resolution to provide. There isn’t. What I have herein said about veiling and masking, covering, uncovering, discovering–again all discovery is a way to keep anyone from covering or re-covering . . . the westward Atlantic voyages of discovery had only uncovered this Hemisphere, there would have been re-covering. But discovery disallows recovery, and in this we have our world; but you do have to listen to Pakistani girls in my neighborhood taunt and insult western girls as these western girls pass by allegedly dressed inappropriately . . . and this is here–there where they are from it is a horror story how endemic Islamic misogyny affects women and creates in them a condition where they oppress other women to incur favors from men. Can there ever be peace for the West with Islam? I really do not think so. Does anyone know anything of Honor Killing in Pakistan? I also imagine that many people are here because they know how fucked up things are where they come from . . . why would anyone want to go back to stay–I also do not think so. To think or not to think, this would determine my to be or not, what I am I become, to become is a very potent way not to be . . . therefore, I am that I am because I think? Or is it true that I am, therefore I think–to be is to think. This man of action shit people are in love with–brutality wins over tenderness? But neither do I want to live in a world of pure and excluding contemplation . . . I reheat the remaining coffee in the pot to have another cup. I use regular sized coffee cups. I bought the coffee cups decades ago in Fish Edy on Hudson around the corner from HB Studio. What if I were other than who I am?